To kick off my 2012 end of year racing spree, I participated in “The Wayve”, taking place for the first time then. What started out as an ambitious ultramarathon race around Lake Zurich (including the bits after Rapperswil) seems to end up as a one hit “wonder”: in 2013, it was cancelled because there weren’t enough registrations, and in 2014 it won’t take place because the organisers set up the Swiss race of the “Wings for Life World Run" instead.
Anyway, there were options to run the whole thing on your own (111 km – good luck with that!), as a team of two (three legs each) or as a “Sixpack” with one leg each. That’s what I did.
This is what the full course looked like:
And it wasn’t flat at all:
My leg was the second one: almost all downhill! The course was in the region of my standard leg of the SOLA relay race and I like running downhill, so I was happy with that.
I met my teammates the evening before the race; I knew only one of them, the rest were friends of friends. We distributed the material (including the race shirt everybody had to wear), figured out who had to carry whose backpack where and left to rest for the night.
The next morning, I went to the starting area in Zurich to see the first start (Singles and “Twins”) to wave to a few friends, then I was off to my own start. It was a Sunday morning and public transportation not running at full capacity yet, but I thought I knew how to get to my start, having the race booklet with me and all.
I managed to catch the right bus after a short train ride, even though the booklet had different departure times for the busses. Being Swiss, this almost derailed me: a bus leaving a few minutes later than the one you wanted to take is most probably another bus! Not so in this case.
At what seemed to be the final stop, all the runners proceeded to get off the bus. Once we were out, the driver explained that he’d continue to where we actually have to be and I’m glad he did: we never would have found it (not to mention that it would have been very far). Thanks, organisers!
This will now turn into a little rant about the race organisation. It’s been more than a year and I’m still angry at the avoidable mistakes. Let’s start with the “timing” devices. Every runner had to carry a GPS device. This was great to check on your teammate to estimate when they would arrive, except that the website was close to unusable (no filtering, no favourites…), nobody thought of maybe putting up screens with the map at the transition zones and a lot of people had problems with the GPS trackers. We didn’t, but a lot of people had no idea where their teammates were (or were worried they had fallen off a cliff).
The worst part was that the trackers were supposed to double as timing devices. If your tracker updates only every few minutes and in many cases doesn’t even work properly, it’s probably not a good timing device, is it?
As I’ve mentioned, we were lucky and our tracker seemed to work so I could see how our starting runner was approaching much earlier than anticipated. I took the tracker and was off, starting with a nice killer downhill.
The course was marked “minimalistically” with little orange arrows, tried and tested in other ultra evens. Apparently. I have a hard time believing that those other events have runners take wrong turns by the dozen, as it happened in this race.
I did some preparations, had the GPS course on my watch to be beeped at when getting off course, had tried to memorise the twists and turns, yet still took a wrong turn twice. Like here:
Seriously, those tiny arrows were invisible. Extra infuriating was the car with race officials at the first wrong turn I took: the guys decided to stop just sitting and watching after about ten people ran past them the wrong way. Grrrr.
Did I mention it was rainy all the time?
Despite all the annoyances, the course was beautiful and I enjoyed running. Extra motivation was picking off the Singles and Twins who, of course, were running at a much easier pace, considering they had to go six times further.
I eventually reached Rapperswil, where I’d hand off to the next team mate. I was slower than what I’d hoped for, but there were much more little uphill sections than I’d anticipated, so that was fine.
After handing off, eating a ton of snacks and glancing angrily at the chief organiser who was checking on things, I showered and went to the finish area, where a few hours later the first people would arrive.
The overall Single champion arrived first, which means he lost less than one hour on the fastest Sixpack. Over 111 km! Then again, the guy is multiple Double and Triple Ironman World Champion, so he knows a thing or two about extreme endurance events.
The first Sixpacks arrived soon, and we hoped to maybe finish on the podium – but eventually just missed it by one place. Here is our last guy finishing his leg:
He was so focused that he blew right past us all and dropped us before we could finish together:
And here is the rest of the team (minus one guy who couldn’t make it):
Fourth overall – nice! Even nicer would have been to know the rankings of the individual legs, but there were either no results (tracker problems) or times in five minutes steps. Five minutes! I was in one of the first five minute packs, yay…
We spent the rest of the evening celebrating and listening to tales of getting lost underway (the last leg must have been the worst, people appearing from all directions), tracker troubles and organisational woes.
It should be mentioned that I’m certain a second edition would have improved on the main criticisms; the guys behind this race are the inventors of the Gigathlon after all, and that is one of the best run events I’ve ever been to.